Sula Richardson works at food and drink communications agency Phipps Relations, where she manages accounts for Wines from Rioja, Wines of Germany and Cognac. She also co-founded Women in Wine LDN - an ever-growing professional networking group that actively champions women in the wine industry.
How long have you been involved in wine?
For over ten years now. It’s been an amazing adventure to date and I’ve been lucky enough to gain experience in retail, education and communications. The drinks industry is always a buzzing hive of activity and attractive to anyone who is looking for an exciting challenge and an interesting cross-section of people.
You’re one of the co-founders of Women in Wine LDN, a networking group for the industry with over 500 members. What inspired you to found the group, and how important is it for women in the wine industry to be championed in this way?
Regine Lee MW, Hannah Van Susteren and I set up the group in 2015 and are truly humbled by the number of members we now have. Back in 2015 I felt like I didn’t have much of a network to call on and I wanted to meet more people working in wine. By nature, I’m a bit of a ‘fixer’; I’m always finding ways to connect people and companies to one another so it felt natural to try to make that happen on a larger scale.
What has been made clear from our first year is that there are incredible women in positions of leadership across the industry and it's important to provide women with the opportunity to engage across sectors. We believe that the forum we have created provides women with a network to positively impact their professional development. Being knowledgeable about today’s wine industry is very important in getting to the next level in your career, regardless of your gender. It has been empowering and exciting to see this unfold at our events.
What’s the best part of your job?
I enjoy generating ideas for campaigns and coming up with ways to make events really engaging. Getting to be creative and challenging myself to make the dream concept become a reality can feel really rewarding. At Phipps, we have produced and managed some huge activations and I’m so proud of everyone’s hard work.
All of my roles require me to make connections and build networks to ensure everything we do is a success. I’m happiest when I’m talking to interesting people about their ideas and bringing them on to a campaign or say, an industry discussion that I’m producing. I feel very lucky that I get to work in drinks as a career.
What is your career highlight so far?
Creating Women in Wine LDN, seeing it grow in to the success that it is and an activity that other people really value is wonderful. When I hear that people have gone in to business together after meeting through the group or have become great friends, it really makes all the hard work worthwhile. I’ve worked internationally and produced some complex large-scale events that form some brilliant and memorable career highlights over the years. As a wine person, the joy of strolling through a beautiful vineyard on a sunny day never really gets old.
Who is your wine inspiration?
I have a background in creative industries and still get a lot of inspiration from design publications and the wider media landscape. Looking outside the trade for inspiration can be really useful and I often contact old colleagues who work in branding and advertising to bounce ideas around with. My ‘London family’ inspire me every day and I wouldn’t have got to where I am now without the support and guidance of some key figures in the drinks industry. Finding some great wine and spirits industry mentors early on taught me to listen, learn and to stay humble.
Follow Sula on Twitter @77Sula77Hoop and Instagram @sula_hoop, and Women in Wine London @womeninwineldn
The winner of the Julian Brind Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Achievement in the Wine Industry will be announced at the IWSC Banquet on 28 November.